Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Qualifications

Not too long ago someone offered to hook me up with one of their friends. Claiming, “I have plenty of single, beautiful friends in Houston. Just tell me what kind of girl you like.” To which I think I mumbled something along the lines of, “Well she should probably be odd… described as a little weird.” Which caused mass confusion. What did I mean by odd, weird, or different?

Since then I have been devoting some quality thinking time into figuring out what type of chic that I am interested in. You ask any woman what qualities you want in a man, and she can give you a list that would run down the block, but when you ask most guys you can barely get past “she’s gotta be cool”. Well here and now I will dictate what it is I am interested in at this point in my life. If you think this is you or you know of someone that meets the criteria, let me know. Unless I already know you, because clearly one of these things is not being met!

So let’s get the obvious out of the way. The woman of my dreams would have to be attractive. Luckily, this attractive criteria is more of a hurdle than a grading curve. If you meet a minimal limit of having something attractive about you, are not obese, and don’t scare small children with your smile, you meet that hurdle. Just because you might not be the hottest chic out there, your attractiveness can grow substantially by simply meeting the non-physical criteria that will be detailed below. Now if you are obese, nothing is attractive about you, and you scare small children… I can’t make any promises. So with that superficiality out of the way, let us begin.

Criteria 1: Don’t be stupid. This means, don’t speak about things that you do not know about. Use your ability to think and not to regurgitate to communicate with others.

Criteria 2: Be discontent. If you look at the world and everything seems honky-dory we have a problem. The world may not be on the brink of destruction, but there are certainly problems that are staring us in the face. You must be inspired to at least think about these things. They don’t have to keep you up at night, but just be aware.

Criteria 3: Be inspired. You must long to accomplish something. Have a drive to change what is around you. I know that I have that drive and I need someone to walk that road with me. Changing the world will take hard work and poor rewards and I will need some moral support to embark on that path.

Criteria 4: Love to learn. Loving to learn means that you dive into something to see what the insides are like. Big points for this one are available to readers, students, teachers.

Bonus: Be a music lover. Have music move your soul, not just your eardrums. By the way, loving crap music is a huge negative. If you tell me that you are just dying over that new Jeezy album, you fail.

Criteria 5: Respect yourself. This means that you are capable of being happy without a man. You would have to think of me as an enhancement, as an equal, and as a vessel for progress.

Bonus: Sense of humor. This is damn near essential, because the world can be too harsh to not laugh.

That’s about it… well it would help if she could cook, sing, was drop dead gorgeous, and independently wealthy. On top of all these things though, the person has to have that IT factor.

No one falls in love with the qualities of a person, but with the person. So that’s why lists are a little stupid. They are the descriptions of the real thing, and could be totally off the mark.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Delicate Dichotomy

The funny thing about groups, is that they are seemingly cumbersome creation. Always subject to the forces, thoughts, and intentions of others and slow to embrace new or radical ideas. Yet as a species, humans are defined by them. If you believe in the theory of evolution at any level, you cannot deny the implication that the group mentality has arisen for a reason. We are most successful when corralled with other people. Previously that success might have been measured in the obvious benefits of food, warmth and shelter, but even in our modern times the social and economical benefits are self evident. It is written into our culture and our subconscious that group behavior is synonymous with human behavior. So how best do we work in a group?

My favorite method of discerning a solution, is to cast a wide net over an issue and slowly reel it in. In casting a wide net over the issue of group dynamics, let us first examine the extremes and work our way to a reasonable solution that inevitably will fall somewhere in-between. Let’s introduce two hypothetical characters, Peter and Jacob.

Peter is an individual, just like all other units of the group, but Peter believes in individuality. Peter shuns the idea of group think, which can best be summed up in the word consensus. If Peter wants to do something, Peter will do it, and if someone wants to join him, it is that persons individual choice. Peter is neither attracted to nor repelled by the other individuals of the group because he is a self contained entity that is primarily dictated by self sufficiency. In short, Peter will be Peter, beyond that statement is of little importance.

Jacob is also an individual, like the other members of the group, but Jacob see’s himself as part of a collective. Jacob is what most would call, considerate. He asserts no opinion without first gaining the inputs of other, and has learned to suppress the impulses he regards as selfish. Jacob balks at the idea of ‘initiative’ or ‘aggression’ when it at the expense of others (which it almost always is). Jacob simply wants to evenly balance the happiness, sadness and the responsibility of all decisions to each member. A true democratic, you might call Jacob.

The conundrum is that they are both in groups, and for this example we will put them in the same group, and they are both individuals. One cannot embrace the group and sacrifice the individual, for that would only work in a collective that had homogeneous members. Similarly, the individual cannot be satiated at the expense of the whole, for that would lead to chaos. Whatever are Jacob and Peter to do?

The answer: compromise. A group must perpetually balance the forces of individual and collective needs. Some times these are complete opposites. Consider the scenario of food. A group may have enough food to feed one person fully or five people sparingly. It is the individuals sense of collective well-being that prevents the person from satisfying the individualistic desire of hunger. This simple example becomes complicated when you consider that, more than likely, not all five persons are going to feel the same levels of hunger from an equal time of food deprivation. Or, perhaps one person had expended more energy in hunting/providing the food. What if you begin to suspect that the food is being tampered with, eaten behind one’s back, or that there are extra supplies hidden away? The dynamics of a group decision are affected by a myriad of factors.

Compromise must be applied to address these forces. Individual desires must be occasionally satiated at the expense of the group, and alternately the group must sacrifice to please an individual occasionally, but these must balance. If Peter gets his way one day, perhaps he must be prepared to concede the next few contests. If Jacob sees the group following an individual’s crusade, he must understand that each member of the group has varying needs of self-expression.

The old saying of “you can either please some people most of the time, or most people some of the time” accurately predicts the dilemma. No one practice of satisfying individual or collective needs will work, there must be a compromise that incorporates both at different times.